Quick Review: Samsung Gear S


Summary:  The Samsung Gear S is currently the most advanced smartwatch from Samsung.  Released in November of 2014, it is the first smartwatch to contain a full 3G modem, enabling calling, texts, and data directly from the watch – without a phone.  Compared to the previous flagship Gear model, the Gear 2, a number of addition advancements were made to the Gear S, but unfortunately three feature losses also occurred.  As this unit is also based on Tizen (a Samsung controlled, unique variant of Linux) instead of the official Android release from Google, some apps present on the original Galaxy Gear watch are not available yet for the Gear S.   As before, this watch allows for users to perform minor productivity and communications tasks directly on their wrist.  With the larger screen and independent connectivity, this smartwatch can be appealing for “gadget people” as well as heavy Samsung users.

What’s New:  This version of the Samsung smartwatch family adds in UV monitoring, as well as sleep tracking, a full 3G cell phone for calling, texts, and data access.  With average use, despite the larger size, the battery life has increased and was measured at about 2 days.

What’s Lost:  As this version of the Gear family uses Tizen (a new variant OS created and owned by Samsung), instead of Android, several unique capabilities that were present in the original Gear, such as taking pictures to add to notes in Evernote, or capturing calorie data using barcode scanning with MyFitnessPal, are lost due to the lack of app support by software vendors for Tizen.  In addition, the strap is no longer user replaceable as it is built-in to the watch and the IR blaster for electronic device control is missing from the previous Gear 2.  Unfortunately, a key omission is the camera that was present on both the Galaxy Gear and Gear 2.

Intended Market:  Users who are heavily invested in the Samsung ecosystem, who would like to have the ability track fitness elements, such as heart rate, UV exposure, sleep, steps taken, and interact with their phone’s notifications, while placing and taking calls using their watch – even without phone access.  Of course, the most ideal market remain those people who already own a recent Samsung Galaxy smartphone.

Sub-optimal market:  Those persons who would prefer to use a device that integrates with Microsoft or Apple services and devices would be better served by the Microsoft Band or the Apple Watch.  Those persons who prefer to have a device that integrates with non-Samsung Android devices would find Android Wear watches (e.g. Moto 360 and the LG G Watch R), to be more appealing.  Users who absolutely need a camera would be best to consider a Gear 2, especially if they are Samsung fans.  Users who desire a cheaper device and do not need to have their watch operate completely independently of their smartphone would be likely more pleased by the more inexpensive Android wear watches.

Caveats:  This watch uses the same pin style connection mechanism for the charging system as does the original Samsung Galaxy Gear.  As you may recall, the connector on the Gear exhibited fragility after around 150 days of consistent use.  While this does not necessarily mean that the same issues would be found on a Gear 2, the fact that the connectors share the same design is cause for consideration.  A wireless charging mechanism for this watch would have been preferable due to reliability concerns.

Approximate Retail Price:  $300 new, ~$200 used.

Purchase Link:  To purchase our specific review unit, please see this Link: UNAVAILABLE.  Note, if the auction is unavailable, our review unit has already been purchased.

Please note that the proceeding quick summary was a NetWise Life Quick Review, and was not intended to be as detailed as our standard reviews.  With this review, we intended to provide a quick synopsis of the device’s target market, and a few unique advantages.  It was not intended to be an exhaustive review.



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